Saliva tests could help detect coronavirus: expert – National


Twice a week, every week, University of Illinois students are asked to spit into a cup.It’s a new type of test for the coronavirus – a test that replaces sticking a swab in the nose for a simpler saliva sample.

The test recently received emergency clearance from the US FDA, one of several saliva tests to receive this approval. Another saliva test, developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, received clearance after being tested on NBA players.

So far, although Health Canada has received requests, it has not approved any coronavirus saliva tests for use in Canada.

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“Health Canada will take into account the evidence provided by manufacturers in deciding whether or not to authorize a test using saliva samples,” a spokesperson for the ministry wrote in a statement. “Manufacturers should demonstrate that the virus or antibodies to the virus can be reliably and accurately detected in the saliva sample. Currently, Health Canada has not authorized the use of saliva samples with any licensed analytical device. ”

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Although the data is still new, Yale’s test appears to be working, said Jason Kindrachuk, Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses at the University of Manitoba.

“This was only slightly less sensitive than the traditional nasal swab test,” he said. The research team posted their findings online, but they were not peer reviewed. It’s a compromise, Kindrachuk thinks. It might be worth using a slightly less sensitive test, if it can be done more often.

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“Because saliva is quick and easy to collect, we realized that it could be a game-changer in the diagnosis of COVID-19,” Anne Wyllie, assistant professor and associate researcher at the Yale School of Public Health, said in a statement Press.

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FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn called Yale’s test, called SalivaDirect, “groundbreaking” in a statement.

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Saliva testing offers several advantages over the usual nasopharyngeal swab test, currently in use in Canada, Kindrachuk said.

First, the sampling and testing equipment might be easier to obtain. At the start of the pandemic, Canada struggled to get enough testing due to high demand for test kit parts, like swabs and chemicals, he said.

“The problem is, we’re all trying to borrow from the same supply chain,” he said.

While this is less of a problem than it once was, having alternative testing is a good thing, he believes. Health Canada says that while it has not yet approved a saliva test, it has approved several other swab tests.

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The saliva test is also often faster than the current test, Kindrachuk said. While it still needs to be analyzed in a lab, it’s a bit easier. In the Yale test, “you basically eliminated a fairly long part of the process where you actually have to extract the nucleic acid from the saliva,” he said.

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The University of Illinois said in a statement that it expects most student test results to arrive within just five hours.

Finally, Kindrachuk said, spitting into a cup is a much nicer experience than having someone stick a cotton swab in your nose, and people might be more inclined to get tested if that’s so. easy to do.

“I think anyone who has had the nasal swab so far can attest to the fact that they are not too comfortable. So you will probably have an easier time adopting. “

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This type of testing could be particularly useful for college campuses, where students can live and congregate, and perhaps even in other educational settings, he said. If an infected person can be identified quickly, they can be placed in quarantine before infecting many more, he said.

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Kindrachuk expects us to have saliva tests for the coronavirus in Canada soon, although he appreciates Health Canada being careful and making sure they work well before allowing them to be generally used.

“At the end of the day, I think we’ll see one or more approved in Canada in the very near future,” he said.

“We’re all trying to find new ways to do things more efficiently, faster and more reliably.”

– with files from Reuters

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